Ah, the joy of trying to chat with your teen. Every parent can use a few tips on how to improve communication during those often moody and challenging years. Here are some suggestions from Raymond Huntington, owner of the Huntington Learning Centers:
Try not to make every conversation about school. Academics should be a top priority, but grilling your teen about homework, grades and studying at every opportunity is likely to cause him or her to retreat. Talk about life outside of school, too.
Strive for more positive interactions than negative ones. Make sure the majority of your conversations with your teen are pleasant.
Avoid praise followed by criticism. For example, if your teen completes his or her homework without frequent reminders, resist the urge to point out how he or she didn’t do so the night before.
Listen without interrupting. Try not to overload your teen with advice; instead be a sounding board.
Recognize that your teen is growing up. Many teens feel resentful when parents treat them like children, telling them what to do and how to do it and trying to control their every move.
Let him or her make decisions when appropriate. If mistakes are made, don’t rub his or her nose in them. Instead, let your teen know mistakes are to be learned from.
Don’t dismiss his or her opinions, even if you don’t agree with him. Don’t be judgmental.
Respect the fact that he or she needs privacy. Resist the temptation to pry into every detail of his or her life.
OK, you are now armed with some good advice. Go knock on that closed bedroom door, try to get your teen to stop texting for five minutes and attempt a heart-to-heart. Good luck. May the force be with you.